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Review of Basic Concepts.pptx

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					Review of Basic Concepts
  Components of Research
                 Theories arrange a set of concepts to define and explain some
     Theory      phenomenon




                 approach to studying a research topic / specific research
     Method      techniques of empirical data
• Quantitative
• Qualitative
• Hybrid

                 Kind of knowledge being produced / Epistemology is concerned
 Epistemology    with that does and does not count as acceptable knowledge.
                               Theory
• (1) Social Scientific theory and research are linked through the
  direction of reasoning of theories. Generally, induction and
  deduction are distinct processes but can be used simultaneous in a
  project. Another form of theory construction is falsification –
  pointing out where previous theories failed.
• (2) Level of the research
   – Macro level – deals with large, aggregate entities of society or even
     whole societies. So theorist are focusing their attention on society at
     large or at least on large portions of it. Eg: international relations
     among countries, interrelations among major institutions in society,
     such as government, religion, and family.
   – Micro level – deals with issues of social life at the level of individuals
     and small groups. Eg: dating behaviour. Focus on social interactions –
     how people relate to each other on an individual level.
   – Meso level – relatively rare – links macro and micro levels or to
     operate on an intermediate level Eg: theories of communities, social
     movements.
                         Epistemology
    There are 3 ½ main epistemological perspectives:
•   Positivism
     – Interested in causes and predicting likelihood of incidences, seeks to
        explain, creates social ‘facts’.
•   Anti-positivism
     – also known as interpretivism (hermeneutics)- a tradition in social
        science related to interactionism and the verstehen sociology of Max
        Weber and Georg Simmel
•   Phenomenology
     – Interested in social meanings, seeks to interpret, uses direct
       involvement, creates data on social interactions.
•   Critical
     – Interested in understanding social phenomena in their social context,
       seeks out structural relationships, data is historical, structural and
       ideological. (mixed form for positivism and interpretivism)
                            Positivism
•   the three goals of positivism - description, control, and prediction
•   Positivism is a philosophy of science based on the view that in the social
    as well as natural sciences, data derived from sensory experience, and
    logical and mathematical treatments of such data, are together the
    exclusive source of all authoritative knowledge. Obtaining and verifying
    data that can be received from the senses is known as empirical evidence.
•   This view holds that society operates according to laws like the physical
    world. Introspective and intuitional attempts to gain knowledge are
    rejected.
•   Though the positivist approach has been a recurrent theme in the history
    of Western thought, the concept was developed in the modern sense in
    the early 19th century by the philosopher and founding sociologist,
    Auguste Comte. Comte argued that society operates according to its own
    laws, much as the physical world operates according to gravity and other
    laws of nature.
• Positivism states that the only authentic knowledge is that
  which allows positive verification
                   Comte (1)
• Comte offered an account of social evolution,
  proposing that society undergoes three phases in
  its quest for the truth according to a general 'law
  of three stages'.
• The idea bears some similarity to Marx's view
  that human society would progress toward a
  communist peak.
• Comte's stages were (1) the theological, (2) the
  metaphysical, and (3) the positive.
                  Comte (2)
• The theological phase deals with humankind's
  accepting the doctrines of the church (or place
  of worship) rather than relying on its rational
  powers to explore basic questions about
  existence. It dealt with the restrictions put in
  place by the religious organization at the time
  and the total acceptance of any "fact"
  adduced for society to believe.
                  Comte (3)
• Comte describes the metaphysical phase of
  humanity as the time since the Enlightenment, a
  time steeped in logical rationalism, to the time
  right after the French Revolution. This second
  phase states that the universal rights of humanity
  are most important. The central idea is that
  humanity is invested with certain rights that must
  be respected. In this phase, democracies and
  dictators rose and fell in attempts to maintain
  the innate rights of humanity.
                    Comte (4)
• The final stage of the trilogy of Comte's universal
  law is the scientific, or positive, stage. The central
  idea of this phase is that individual rights are
  more important than the rule of any one person.
  Comte stated that the idea of humanity's ability
  to govern itself makes this stage innately
  different from the rest. There is no higher power
  governing the masses and the intrigue of any one
  person can achieve anything based on that
  individual's free will and authority.
                  Comte (5)
• The irony of this series of phases is that though
  Comte attempted to prove that human
  development has to go through these three
  stages, it seems that the positivist stage is far
  from becoming a realization.
• Anthony Giddens argues that since humanity
  constantly uses science to discover and research
  new things, humanity never progresses beyond
  the second metaphysical phase. In this view,
  Comte's positivism appears circular
       Durkheim's positivism (1)
• While Durkheim rejected much of the details
  of Comte's philosophy, he retained and
  refined its method, maintaining that the social
  sciences are a logical continuation of the
  natural ones into the realm of human activity,
  and insisting that they may retain the same
  objectivity, rationalism, and approach to
  causality.
          Durkheim's positivism (2)
• Durkheim's seminal monograph, Suicide (1897), a case study of
  suicide rates amongst Catholic and Protestant populations,
  distinguished sociological analysis from psychology or philosophy.
• By carefully examining suicide statistics in different police districts,
  he attempted to demonstrate that Catholic communities have a
  lower suicide rate than Protestants, something he attributed to
  social (as opposed to individual or psychological) causes.
• He developed the notion of objective sui generis "social facts" to
  delineate a unique empirical object for the science of sociology to
  study.
• Through such studies, he posited, sociology would be able to
  determine whether a given society is 'healthy' or 'pathological', and
  seek social reform to negate organic breakdown or "social anomie".
• Durkheim described sociology as the "science of institutions,
  their genesis and their functioning".
                  Stephen Hawking
• Stephen Hawking is a recent high profile advocate of positivism, at
  least in the physical sciences. In The Universe in a Nutshell (p. 31)
  he writes:
        Any sound scientific theory, whether of time or of any other
        concept, should in my opinion be based on the most workable
        philosophy of science: the positivist approach put forward by
        Karl Popper and others. According to this way of thinking, a
        scientific theory is a mathematical model that describes and
        codifies the observations we make. A good theory will
        describe a large range of phenomena on the basis of a few
        simple postulates and will make definite predictions that can
        be tested… If one takes the positivist position, as I do, one
        cannot say what time actually is. All one can do is describe
        what has been found to be a very good mathematical model
        for time and say what predictions it makes.
                    Popper (1)
Popper coined the term "critical rationalism" to describe
his philosophy. Concerning the method of science, the
term indicates his rejection of classical empiricism, and
the classical observationalist-inductivist account of
science that had grown out of it. Popper argued strongly
against the latter, holding that scientific theories are
abstract in nature, and can be tested only indirectly, by
reference to their implications.
He also held that scientific theory, and
human knowledge generally, is irreducibly
conjectural or hypothetical, and is
generated by the creative imagination in
order to solve problems that have arisen in
specific historio-cultural settings.
                          Popper (2)
• Logically, no number of positive outcomes at the level of
  experimental testing can confirm a scientific theory, but a single
  counterexample is logically decisive: it shows the theory, from
  which the implication is derived, to be false.
• The term "falsifiable" does not mean something is made false, but
  rather that, if it is false, it can be shown by observation or
  experiment.
• Popper's account of the logical asymmetry between verification
  and falsifiability lies at the heart of his philosophy of science. It also
  inspired him to take falsifiability as his criterion of demarcation
  between what is, and is not, genuinely scientific: a theory should be
  considered scientific if, and only if, it is falsifiable.
• This led him to attack the claims of both psychoanalysis and
  contemporary Marxism to scientific status, on the basis that their
  theories are not falsifiable.
                         Epistemology
    There are 3 ½ main epistemological perspectives:
•   Positivism
     – Interested in causes and predicting likelihood of incidences, seeks to
        explain, creates social ‘facts’.
•   Anti-positivism
     – also known as interpretivism (hermeneutics)- a tradition in social
        science related to interactionism and the verstehen sociology of Max
        Weber and Georg Simmel
•   Phenomenology
     – Interested in social meanings, seeks to interpret, uses direct
       involvement, creates data on social interactions.
•   Critical
     – Interested in understanding social phenomena in their social context,
       seeks out structural relationships, data is historical, structural and
       ideological. (mixed form for positivism and interpretivism)
                 Interpretivism (1)
• Verstehen is now seen as a concept and a method central to a
  rejection of positivistic social science (although Weber appeared to
  think that the two could be united).
• Verstehen refers to understanding the meaning of action from the
  actor's point of view. It is entering into the shoes of the other, and
  adopting this research stance requires treating the actor as a
  subject, rather than an object of your observations.
• It also implies that unlike objects in the natural world human actors
  are not simply the product of the pulls and pushes of external forces.
  Individuals are seen to create the world by organizing their own
  understanding of it and giving it meaning. To do research on actors
  without taking into account the meanings they attribute to their
  actions or environment is to treat them like objects.
            Interpretivism (2)
• Social realm may not be subject to the same
  methods of investigation as the natural world;
  that academics must reject empiricism and
  the scientific method in the conduct of social
  research. Antipositivists hold that researchers
  should focus on understanding the
  interpretations that social actions have for the
  people being studied.
• Prefer qualitative methods (comment!)
            Phenomenology (1)
• In the science of statistics, the collection of
  quantifiable data from people involves a
  phenomenological step. Namely, in order to obtain
  that data, survey questions must be designed to collect
  measurable responses that are categorized in a
  logically sound and practical way, such that the form in
  which the questions are asked does not bias the results.
  If this is not done, data distortions due to question-
  wording effects (response error) occur, and the data
  obtained may have no validity at all, because
  observations that do not have the same meaning (it
  would be like "adding up apples and pears") are
  counted up.
                Phenomenology (2)
• A prerequisite of a good survey is that all respondents are really
  able to give a definite and unambiguous answer to the questions,
  and that they understand what is asked of them in the same way.
• One could, for example, ask farmers, "How much risk do you run
  on your farm?" with a scale of response options ranging, for
  example, from "a lot of risk" to "no risk". But this yields
  quantitatively meaningless data that is not objective, since the
  interpretations of "how much risk" by farmers could focus, for
  example, on the number, size, frequency, severity, likelihood or
  consequence of risks, and each farmer will have his own
  idiosyncratic idea about that. All farmers may suffer, for example,
  from a lack of rainfall, but some will personally consider it a large
  risk, others a low risk, and some not a risk at all.

                                                   RSA-Questionnaire design
                         Epistemology
    There are 3 ½ main epistemological perspectives:
•   Positivism
     – Interested in causes and predicting likelihood of incidences, seeks to
        explain, creates social ‘facts’.
•   Anti-positivism
     – also known as interpretivism (hermeneutics)- a tradition in social
        science related to interactionism and the verstehen sociology of Max
        Weber and Georg Simmel
•   Phenomenology
     – Interested in social meanings, seeks to interpret, uses direct
       involvement, creates data on social interactions.
•   Critical
     – Interested in understanding social phenomena in their social context,
       seeks out structural relationships, data is historical, structural and
       ideological. (mixed form for positivism and interpretivism)
                     Critical (1)
• Core concepts are:
  – (1) That critical social theory should be directed at
    the totality of society in its historical specificity (i.e.
    how it came to be configured at a specific point in
    time), and
  – (2) That critical theory should improve
    understanding of society by integrating all the
    major social sciences, including geography,
    economics, sociology, history, political science,
    anthropology, and psychology.
                          Critical (2)
• From the 1960s and 1970s onward, language, symbolism, text, and
  meaning came to be seen as the theoretical foundation for the
  humanities, through the influence of Ludwig Wittgenstein,
  Ferdinand de Saussure, George Herbert Mead, Noam Chomsky,
  Hans-Georg Gadamer, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida and other
  thinkers in linguistic and analytic philosophy, structural linguistics,
  symbolic interactionism, hermeneutics, semiology, linguistically
  oriented psychoanalysis (Jacques Lacan, Alfred Lorenzer), and
  deconstruction.

• When, in the 1970s and 1980s, Jürgen Habermas redefined critical
  social theory as a theory of communication, i.e. communicative
  competence and communicative rationality on the one hand,
  distorted communication on the other, the two versions of critical
  theory began to overlap or intertwine to a much greater degree
  than before.
                                            1. Sociological Criticism
                                            2. Literal Criticism
       Paper #1 due next week.
• Pick one epistemological perspective.
• Pick at least four notable theorists that defend
  this perspective
• In no more than single spaced-10ptTimes New
  Roman’ed 8 pages review(60-80%) and comment
  (remaining%) on that epistemological perspective.
• Your commentary should not cite any other main
  stream (competing) epistemological perspectives.
                  MORE…
• Emic and etic are terms used by
  anthropologists and by others in the social
  and behavioral sciences to refer to two kinds
  of data concerning human behavior. In
  particular, they are used in cultural
  anthropology to refer to kinds of fieldwork
  done and viewpoints obtained.
                  Emic vs Etic
• An 'emic' account is a description of behavior or
  a belief in terms meaningful (consciously or
  unconsciously) to the actor; that is, an emic
  account comes from a person within the culture.
  Almost anything from within a culture can
  provide an emic account.
• An 'etic' account is a description of a behavior or
  belief by an observer, in terms that can be
  applied to other cultures; that is, an etic account
  attempts to be 'culturally neutral'.
     What do you need to think about
       when Designing Research?
•   What is the purpose of the research?
•   What are your units of analysis?
•   What are your points of focus?
•   What is the time dimension?
•   Designing a research project:
    – conceptualisation
    – operationalization.
• Reliability, replication and validity.
Different Purposes of Research (1)
•    Exploratory
    – Goal is to generate many ideas.
    – Develop tentative theories and conjectures.
    – Become familiar with the basic facts, people and
      concerns involved.
    – Formulate questions and refine issues for future
      research.
    – Used when little is written on an issue.
    – It is the initial research.
    – Usually qualitative research.
 Different Purposes of Research (2)
• Descriptive research
   – Presents a profile of a group or describes a process, mechanism or
     relationship or presents basic background information or a context.
   – Used very often in applied research.
   – E.g.: General Household survey – describes demographic
     characteristics, economic factors and social trends.
   – Can be used to monitor changes in family structure and household
     composition.
   – Can also be used to gain an insight into the changing social and
     economic circumstances of population groups.
   – Often survey research.
Different Purposes of Research (3)
• Analytical (or explanatory)
  – goes beyond simple description to model
    empirically the social phenomena under
    investigation.
  – It involves theory testing or elaboration of a
    theory.
Different Purposes of Research (4)
• Evaluation
  – characterised by the focus on collecting data to ascertain
    the effects of some form of planned change.
  – Used in applied research to evaluate a policy initiative or
    social programme to determine if it is working.
  – Can be small or large scale, e.g.: effectiveness of a crime
    prevention programme in a local housing estate.

				
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